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Bronx, the Last Bastion of Affordable Housing, Begins Losing Its Battle

Posted on April 29, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Catholic Charities NY Rushes In with Reinforcements

By Alice Kenny

Gentrification, richer people buying homes in poorer places, is now, more than ever before, pushing struggling New Yorkers out of some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, according to two recent reports.  Fortunately, Catholic Charities NY is pushing back.

The Bronx: the Last Battleground

The Association of Neighborhood Housing and Development released a study last week revealing men, women and children living in six impoverished Bronx community districts, until now among the last outposts of affordable housing in the city, are rapidly losing their homes.  Meanwhile, a just-released University of California, Berkeley urban displacement map compiled by NYU grad students among others illustrates this reality. A full 12-percent of low-income New York City neighborhoods now face what they label as “advanced gentrification.” Worse still, nearly one in ten more struggling, low-income families whose incomes cannot keep up with skyrocketing rents have been forced to leave before gentrification even starts. 

Working but Still Unable to Afford Rent

One of the neighborhoods hit hardest, according to these reports, is in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx.  And this neighborhood had already been quite hard hit.  Home to the “working poor,” adults who often work full and overtime at minimum-wage jobs, Morrisania, along with the Bronx overall, has the lowest median household income than any other borough.  Four out of every ten children grow up in poverty.  And 60-percent of households already devote at least 30-percent of their incomes in rent, more than any other borough including Manhattan.

View from St. Augustine Terrace 

Catholic Charities Steps In

Fortunately, Catholic Charities’ partner, Catholic Homes New York, recently opened new affordable housing here. St. Augustine Apartments, a sparkling 14-story building in Morrisania built on the site of a former church with that name, sports 112 units of sun-filled, polished-wood floor affordable housing units.  This includes 35 supportive housing units for residents facing severe mental health issues and supported by Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope. 

This brings to 2,300 the number of affordable housing units provided by the Association of New York Catholic Homes.  They house veterans, people with special needs, formerly homeless individuals and families.  Meanwhile, two more projects are under construction in the Bronx.  They include St. Vincent de Paul with 89 units for seniors and Second Farms with 319 units for families. 

The Struggle Continues

Together they will total 2,700 low-income permanent housing units for families and seniors.  Two thousand seven hundred units multiplied by the several-member families they house is a big number.  Bigger still, unfortunately, is the continuing push north, south and east of higher income Manhattanites in search of homes they can afford. Catholic Charities NY pledges to keep building and keep battling back.

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